Whenever I read a headline introducing me to a “New Social Media Trend” I reach for my imaginary seat belt, in order to buckle myself in for a ride which will conclude with me having lost an exorbitant amount of respect for my fellow human beings, along with having been forced to endure unbearable levels of second-hand embarrassment.
In that respect the #DontJudgeMeChallenge hasn’t let me down, because not only has it been created off the back of a video in which a woman highlights the emotional trauma she’s withstood from having people on the Internet judge her for her imperfect, acne-ridden complexion, despite the videos created as part of the “challenge” specifically making fun of people with imperfect, acne-ridden faces, but it has also had me cringing enough to last me for a solid month.
For the uninitiated, the #DontJudgeMeChallenge sees Instagram and Vine users posting videos of themselves wearing makeup/face paint in order to make themselves appear as unattractive as possible. They coat themselves in fake pimples, draw unibrows onto their faces and wear glasses (the horror!) before putting their palm over their smartphone camera, pulling it away and then revealing themselves as they really look, i.e. not coated in fake skin blemishes and appearing altogether more photogenic.
It’s essentially a way for the worryingly self-obsessed to show you how good they look, and is basically the antithesis of videos such as Em Ford’s “You Look Disgusting,” which depicted the YouTube make-up tutorial creator sitting in front of a camera sans make-up, whilst surrounded by annotations containing abusive YouTube comments such as “ugly as fuck” and “her face is so ugly.” The video was a powerful look at how anonymous online comments can impact upon the emotional and mental well-being of very real people, and it swiftly racked up over 11 million views.
Though it is unclear who the creator of the #DontJudgeMeChallenge was, it seems that the beauty blogger’s video triggered its rise and now it’s become the next big thing on the Internet, and never has the intention of one of these social media trends been so transparent.
Em Ford’s video, which was intended to highlight the Internet’s penchant for body-shaming, was the vehicle for these videos that have missed the point entirely, with the #DontJudgeMeChallenge having initially inspired videos that featured people showing their faces before and after the application of make-up, but now being used by the preening, narcissistic masses to show off how good they look. Case in point, this video from popular Viner Nate Garner, who complements a clip of him smeared in fake zits with a video of him looking as fresh-faced as a newborn baby, albeit one that you would happily smother given half the chance:
But even though Nate’s shit-eating grin makes his entry in the “challenge” notable, he’s not the only one who’s jumped on the trend. Scrolling through the tag on Vine, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook reveals a slew of people who, for some misguided reason, believe that posting videos of themselves looking attractive is positively contributing to the idea that people should feel comfortable in their own skin despite their physical imperfections.
Don’t judge challenge — (: pic.twitter.com/39yfq0LKlW
— THATBOYVINCE (@Thatboyvince_) July 8, 2015
— ☠ (@PaitonMitchell) July 6, 2015
Imagine being the kind of person who would think that this was an appealing way to present yourself online. Imagine having your head embedded that deeply inside your own anus that you wouldn’t even consider that maybe, just maybe contorting a campaign dedicated to promoting body-positivity so that you could tell the Internet “hey guys, look how ugly I’m not!” is a shitty thing to do.
I get that many involved in the “challenge” may not be aware of its origins, but even taking away the fact that it looks like they’re essentially mocking those who were taking part in its original incarnation, they’re still immensely embarrassing videos populating a trend solely occupied by people with zero self-awareness.
Do better, Internet.